The UK’s main gambling industry body has warned about the dangers of what it says is rising black market gambling.
The Betting and Gaming Council represents gambling companies and it says its research, carried out by PWC, says that spending on black market gambling websites by British gamblers has increased more than 100%.
The BCG is using this research to argue “the dangers of complacency” about unlicensed gambling.
The data in the report was collected in November and December 2020 and has been compared to a similar study from 2019.
The report found that spending on unlicensed, and thus illegal, websites has increased from £1.4bn to £2.8bn.
Customer numbers at illegal sites have also increased according to the report have also increased more than two-fold. This means that 460,000 people have used unlicensed gambling websites in 2020, up from 210,000 in the earlier studies.
The report goes on to comment on growing black markets in countries outside the UK.
The BCG’s release of this report is being used to promote the idea that the government’s Gambling Review should be measured in its recommendations.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said:
“This new report by PwC is an impressive and comprehensive piece of work which demonstrates how the unsafe, unregulated black market is a growing threat to British punters.
“These illicit sites have none of the regulated sector’s consumer protections in place, such as strict ID and age verification checks, safer gambling messages and the ability to set deposit limits.”
The BGC says it welcomes the Gambling Review but is urging the government to get the recommendations it makes right.
The proportion of UK online gamblers using unlicensed online gambling sites increased from 2.2% to 4.5%.
Most players who use unlicensed sites also use licensed sites
BGC’s report claims that black markets are bigger where regulated gambling is not successful. They claim that jurisdictions with tough restrictions on legalised gambling like France, Norway, Spain and Italy, have larger black markets.
The report says:
“This analysis suggests that the UK has a more ‘open’ online gambling market and currently has a smaller unlicensed market share than our European benchmarks.”
Although the report makes it clear that it cannot make a definitive link between these two facts, it is certainly a pair of facts that the BGC is keen to draw attention to.
The Gambling Industry in the UK is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. It is illegal to use or offer gambling services from any website without an up-to-date UK Gambling Commission licence. The UK GC is undertaking a review of the gambling industry and its regulation. Just this week UKGC introduced new rules that outlawed auto play features on online video slots as well as a number of other features. A number of measures, including maximum losses or cuts to betting limits, and advertising bans, have been trailed as the industry awaits the release of the report.